Mobility

10 years of iPhone innovation: The top features Apple launched with each new iPhone

At times the iPhone led the smartphone market, other times it followed. But, the new features that accompanied each new iPhone release steadily made these devices more intrinsic in our daily lives.

The iPhone made smartphones easy enough for anyone to use, put the internet in the palm of our hand, and unleashed a revolution in mobile software.

Apple wasn't always the leader in bringing the newest technologies to the smartphone—Android originally replicated the iPhone but then Android vendors regularly pioneered new hardware advances. However, the iPhone often popularized and standardized the latest innovations.

SEE: The revolution in your pocket: How the iPhone changed everything

Let's zip through the history of innovation in the iPhone, model-by-model.

1. The original iPhone pioneered:

  • Multi-touch interface
  • First useful mobile web browser
  • Integrated iPod music player
  • Mobile YouTube app
  • Visual voicemail

2. The iPhone 3G offered:

  • Mobile app store for developers
  • Microsoft Exchange email
  • 3G mobile broadband
  • Turn-by-turn GPS navigation

3. The iPhone 3GS introduced:

  • Video camera
  • Digital compass (integrated with Google Maps)
  • Voice Control
  • Copy and paste

4. The iPhone 4 brought:

  • Retina display
  • Apple-designed A4 CPU, with better battery life
  • Front-facing camera
  • FaceTime video calling

5. The iPhone 4S added:

  • Siri personal assistant
  • HD video recording in 1080p
  • Airplay
  • iMessage
  • iCloud

6. The iPhone 5 featured:

  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • 4-inch screen
  • Lightning connector
  • Passbook for boarding passes, tickets, loyalty cards, and more

7. The iPhone 5S gave us:

  • Touch ID fingerprint scanner
  • A 64-bit processor, the Apple A7
  • Notifications Center
  • M7 chip with built-in pedometer

8. The iPhone 6 introduced:

  • 4.7-in screen (and Plus model with 5.5-in screen)
  • Apple Pay
  • Predictive keyboard
  • Wi-Fi calling

9. The iPhone 6S brought:

  • 3D Touch
  • Apple Music
  • Low Power Mode
  • Back button

10. The iPhone 7 offered:

  • Quad core processor, with 20% boost in battery life
  • Dual wide angle and telephoto camera lens in Plus model
  • New water- and dust-resistant body
  • Wireless W1 chip to connect to AirPods and wireless Beats headphones

Those are the leading innovations brought by the iPhone. For more on the history of the iPhone, see TechRepublic's full coverage of Apple's 10-year iPhone anniversary.

cnet-sarah-tew-iphone-6s.jpg
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

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About Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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